Maryland teen gets probation, community service for synagogue vandalism


WASHINGTON (JTA via Washington Jewish Week) — A Maryland teenager who spray-painted swastikas on a local synagogue was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

Sebastian Espinoza-Carranza, 18, could have been sentenced on Tuesday to nine years in prison for his part in the April incident at Shaare Torah Congregation in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The high school senior received a reduced sentence because he met with Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal of Shaare Torah, toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and wrote a two-page paper about what he had learned.

“This was an absolutely horrific crime,” said Sherri Koch, the senior assistant state’s attorney. “The community itself is still healing.”

She said it was “very much to the synagogue’s credit” that its leadership preferred that Espinoza-Carranza be educated rather than punished.

Blumenthal addressed the court, explaining that he and synagogue president Connie Liss spoke with Espinoza-Carranza about teshuvah, or repentance, and the importance of overcoming one’s mistakes. The young man “quite willingly” apologized and promised he would never do it again, the rabbi said.

He also helped repaint the damage he had done to the synagogue, Blumenthal said.

Recommended from JTA